The Sands House at Crosland Hill was one of Huddersfield’s best-known pubs.

Many regulars – not to mention the brewery – were baffled when it suddenly closed in May and the long-standing landlord disappeared.

But it was clear to many that such a well-known landmark with a good reputation and large car park would not be allowed to stand empty for long.

Step in Huddersfield’s newest gastro pub company: Holme Valley Inns.

Over the last two or three years, Mark Oldfield, his wife, Clare, and Ricardo Victor have worked in partnership with the brewery chain owners of the Golden Cock at Farnley Tyas, Grange Moor’s Kaye Arms and the Bull’s Head at Blackmoorfoot. The latest addition to their team is Miguel Spiteri, who is heading the Sands House.

Holme Valley Inns re-opened the Sands House a few weeks ago with an Italian and American-themed menu. Dishes include pizzas and pastas, home-made burgers and fajitas, all priced at £8.95. The meal deal is good value for money – any two dishes for £12.99 any time Monday to Friday or noon to 4pm on Saturday.

Children eat for half price – or free midweek lunchtimes if they bring their parents.

The à la carte menu has a selection of starters, carne and pesci: chicken in Napoli sauce, sirloin steak (£15.95), pork fillet medallions, calves liver, salmon fillet, sea bass or classic fish and chips (£8.95).

I’d read a few reviews on Trip Adviser before three of us tried it out last week and, to be frank, they were mixed.

Some of the reviewers had to wait a long time for their meal – and ours wasn’t too speedy, but this is always a bugbear with new restaurants and our wait was not unduly long.

We all felt that the meal deal was excellent value and the portions were well presented and quite sufficient. But, for those who judge a meal on its size, there are other Huddersfield eateries serving larger portions for the bigger appetite – although probably not at this quality for the price.

The star attraction was undoubtedly the manager, Miguel, 24, who has an old head on young shoulders.

He is dedicated to his task of building a successful business – and if enthusiasm and attention to detail are the benchmarks, he will do extremely well. The young man from Malta has a very pleasant manner and managed to make every person dining feel special.

It is these little personal touches which will draw people back to the Sands House where, with a touch of Mediterranean panache, you will be welcomed like an old friend.

There has been a quick makeover inside, the clocks have been removed to the downstairs annexe, but the interior is similar to the old days; a traditional interior with lots of dark wood.

We had two starters between the three of us: spicy pork and beef meatballs on ciabatta toast, which were pleasant – good quality meat, not too spicy, and mozarella and tomato salad with basil. It was washed down with a good, mellow Rocca Vineyard Merlot from the Veneto region at £16.95. All the wines are from Italy.

From the mains, we adopted a policy of divide and conquer: a pizza with parma ham and pepperoni, pasta with chicken breast, sundried tomatoes and pesto in a cream sauce, and a haddock burger with home-made tartar sauce and skinny fries, which arrived in a trendy little metal bucket.

The pizza was good with plenty of rich topping, perhaps the base could have been a bit crisper. The pasta sauce was home-made with delicate, lean pieces of chicken and a nice balance of flavours. The fish in the burger wasn’t large, but it was succulent with a crispy batter and nicely seasoned.

VERDICT: Price-wise a good middle-of-the-road choice for couples or families. It is continually improving under Miguels’ beady eye and I expect it to do well.

The Sands House

Blackmoorfoot Road, Crosland Hill, Huddersfield HD4 7AE


Tel: 01484 654478

Opening hours: Monday- Friday 12-3pm and 5-9pm, Saturday 12-9pm and Sunday 12-7pm.

Children: Yes with special offers before 3pm

Disabled access: No and no disabled toilet

The bill: £50.29 for three with a bottle of wine

Would you go back? We all said yes, we would